What do you do when you feel absolutely overwhelmed by life? When you are trying to live a life of integrity, like I talked about yesterday, but attacks come from every side? What do you do when, like David talks about in the Psalms, there are “those who speak evil against my life.” How do you respond?
I know for me, the first thought is to strike back! Been there? Yeah, I think it’s just our nature. The question is whether or not that is the right thing, the noble thing, the godly thing…even the helpful thing. I know that the times I have reacted have been the times that things have been the most chaotic and destructive. Most of the time, I have to go back and apologize and hope for a mulligan. The key, then, is not to react, but to respond.
A reaction is like being tapped below the knee cap, causing an involuntary, thoughtless jerk. “Jerk” is probably a good word to describe us when we simply give a “knee-jerk” reaction to attacks and circumstances, isn’t it?
A response, on the other hand, implies calculation, thought, intentionality. At least it does to me. When I react, I lash out. When I respond, I take the time to think it through and then conduct myself according to those plans. It’s harder, but most definitely better. In the end, it takes less time because I don’t have to go through all of the pain of fixing what I just made worse.
There are certainly times when a response may call for firmness and directness. There are times when confrontation (even sometimes heated) is required. However, this kind of exchange as a thoughtless reaction will hardly ever (if ever) provide satisfying results.
There are other times, though, when the best response is no response. Sometimes, people act in ways that are so ludicrous that it doesn’t even justify a response. Attacks that are based on and built upon lies will not, in the end, stand. Sure, they will hurt for a while and there may be some people who believe them, but fighting back just plays right into the hands of the Enemy. Sometimes, the very best approach is to just sit still, place it in the hands of God and let Him deal with it as He wants to. He’s big enough to do that, you know.
I was exploring this subject more in depth this morning and came across the following excerpt from a post by John Piper from way back in 1981. It was an incredible encouragement to me. Hopefully, it will be to you. Let me know what you think on the subject.
Sennacherib, king of Assyria, came up against Jerusalem when Hezekiah was king. So Hezekiah gathered the people and the commanders together in the square at the gate. If you memorize what he said to them you will know the power of God in a new way. He said:
Be strong and be courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with them; for there is one greater with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles.
I want it to be said of me, “The people took confidence from the words of John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church.” That’s my goal: “the advancement and joy of your faith.” What is the “King of Assyria” in your life? Whatever it is, remember: “there is one greater with you than with him!” If you trust him, the LORD almighty is on your side and will fight your battles! “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today…The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be still” (Exodus 14:13, 14). (emphasis added)